When Barker first showed with Robert Fraser in 1966, he stirred the art world with his Van Gogh's Chair, a life-sized three dimension as interpretation in chrome plated steel of his favourite painting by Van Gogh. Impressive one-man shows soon followed, culminating in a large travelling retrospective in 1981-82. Thereafter Barker's work from the first two decades of his artistic output continued to be exhibited in major Pop Art shows in Britain and abroad, and featured in survey books on the Pop Art movement. New work, however, was seldom shown yet Barker confidently continued making his objects. Now, eighteen years after the last comprehensive showing of his sculptures this exhibition reintroduces Britain's leading Pop Art sculptor as one of the protagonists of British post-war sculpture
For Barker the making and not the meaning of his objects is what matters. Relating to Existentialist philosophy, Barker throws his objects in the world, leaving their meaning as a process of gaining through the act of existing in itself. Herewith he delegates the process of interpretation to the viewer. With their shiny surfaces, the objects themselves, in their turn, demand attention and engage the viewer in a process of reading and interpreting.
Ultimately, Barker's objects stand out as reminders of a different world in the present, relating to the past and future alike, thus challenging the viewer to contemplate aspects of their own being. And as one absorbs the optimism they transit, the objects gain their real meaning: that of touching and enriching one's life.
An Jo Fermon